In 1827 the old timber building on the Gänsemarkt had served its
purpose. The new “Stadt-Theater”, built to plans by Carl Friedrich
Schinkel, was opened on the 3rd of May 1827 on the site of today’s
State Opera, in Dammtorstrasse, with a performance of Goethe’s “Egmont"
and accompanying music from Ludwig van Beethoven. The acoustics of the
new Stadt-Theater, like the capacity of 2,800 seats, went into new
Equipped in this way, Hamburg was able to play on the international
opera stage. The outstanding highlights of the next decades included
Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient’s guest appearance in Beethoven’s
“Fidelio" (1832), the performance of “Vestalin" by Gasparo Spontini,
conducted by the composer himself (1834), the concerts given by Niccolo
Paganini (1830) and Franz Liszt (1840) as well as the appearances of
“Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind. The latter caused an emotional to-do
the like of which the Hamburg public had never before experienced.
In 1844 composers Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi frequently took
turns. Their music had a major impact on the music of the latter half
of the nineteenth century. Wagner directed and conducted his own
“Rienzi” in Hamburg, and “Nabucco” was the first Verdi opera to be
performed in Germany.
But the story of the opera house at that time was not entirely all
success. Time and again, imminent financial ruin threatened. The day
was saved by Bernhard Pollini, the experienced theatre director who
took over the theatre in 1873. He managed to obtain public funds for it
for the first time. Under his direction, the tradition of staging
operas by Verdi and Wagner continued with “Aida" (1876) and the “The
Ring of the Nibelung" (1878). And the first German performances of
Verdi’s “Othello" and Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin" (1892) took place
in Hamburg. Pollini also had a knack for choosing his directors. After
Hans von Bülow (1887-1890), Gustav Mahler took over for six years, in
1891. Mahler made the opera house a musical centre of standing with
thirteen premières and first performances during the 1896/97 season.